Rajesh Khanna(1942-2012): A Tribute
“Zindagi aur maut upar waalon ke haathon mein hain jahaapanah. Use naa aap badal sakte hain aur na hum. Hum sab toh is rang manch ke katputliyah hain jiske dor upar walon ke hath mein bandhe hain. Kab kaun kaise uthegaa kisiko bi pata nahin”
It was just a week ago that the fears about the health of Bollywood icon were dispelled as he was discharged from hospital. Countless fans of his heaved a sigh of relief when it was announced that Rajesh Khanna is doing well. But all of a sudden the news came in this afternoon that, he is no more. It is not just the mourning of his wife, Dimple Kapadia and daughter, Twinkle and Rinkie and son-in-law, Akshay Kumar, but also the mourning of a nation. The Indian nation is collectively saying, Our Anand is no more, our Amar Prem is no more, our Bawarchi is no more, our Kaka is no more.
What a gush of emotions and what a whiff of his memories. He was 69 when he left this world, but what he left behind is a sea of memories and fondness.
When he first emerged on to the Bollywood screen in Aakhri Khat, little did anyone imagine what would be the impact this handsome man would be leaving such a legacy which would be impossible for anyone to emulate his success. He is often considered as the first superstar of free India leaving behind the troika of Raj Kapoor, Dilip Kumar and Dev Anand. He was a mixture of all of them. He was man who was as handsome and as romantic as Dev Anand, if not more. He was as clownish as Raj Kapoor and as tragic as Dilip Saab. He was all of them rolled into one.
Kaka was like a cocktail and showed to the film industry what stardom is. He was the one who was adulated wherever he went and the police had to request him to cancel his public appearances for the fear of stampede. Rajesh Khanna symbolised the triumph of an emerging India. He appealed to the romantics of the time who were just emerging out from the college. The womenfolk went gaga over them. His charm was such that even an 80 year old wanted to go on a secret date with him. The young men imitated him and his style. They had that swagger about them which they saw in Rajesh Khanna.
Kaka was the one who rejuvenated Bollywood with hit after hit. 15 consecutive superhits from 1969-1972 is stuff of legends. Raaz, Aaradhana, Anand, Amar Prem, Bawarchi, Namak Haram, Kati Patang, Ittefaaq, Haathi Mere Saathi, Safar, Aan Milo Sajna, Andaz, Roti, Dushman, Dus Numbri, Aap Ki Kasam, Sachcha Jhoota, Daag, Khamoshi were all the part of the phenomenon and these were the films which are remembered for the storylines and also for the lilting music and the romance which signified his films. His pairing with each and every actress was equally lauded. Mumtaj, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore and Hema Malini were just in awe of his stardom. Equally stuff of legends of his marriage with Dimple Kapadia who just stole the nation’s hearts with “Bobby.”
His fall from grace was equally drastic. After the consecutive super hits, he had a string of flops and also his lack of discipline went against him. His dwindling fame and his alcoholism did not help either. His personal family life went into tatters when Dimple had enough of his problems and separated from him. With time, he lost his handsome shape and began to look bloated. His fall from grace was not digested by his countless fans who still nursed some hopes. But the aam janta were already enamored by the super success of Amitabh Bachchan who became the numero uno. Still Kaka gave some hits in the form of Souten, Ghar ka Chiraag but his halycon days never returned.
Kaka briefly dabbled in politics and was even an Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha. But his innings in politics was not as fruitful and he quit politics. He tried to attempt a comeback at the tinselville with films like, “Aa Ab Laut Chalen” but it was a damp squib at the box-office. Also his last film, “Wafa” was like a sour taste and is more infamous for its heroine, Laila Khan. His health which was affected by cancer did not allow him to pursuit more and since April 2012 he was battling with death till it consumed him.
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